I originally wrote this article in 2013, the year of the Steubenville High School rape case here in the United States, and more than one brutal rape case occurring in India. I published it again in June 2017. Now, 5+ years later, I continue to make the case for Tantra being the antidote to a culture that normalizes and perpetuates sexual violence towards women (cis and trans) and consistently refuses to hold the perpetrators accountable for their actions.
The only silver lining in the numerous and ongoing reports of sexual assault against women is the awareness that it brings to the issue of normalized sexual violence, and the very dysfunctional relationship that our culture has with the topic of sex.
And this is why I KNOW for a fact that the Tantric approach to sexuality can help heal the social attitude that allows rape to even be a consideration for men.
The conventional belief about rape is that it is not a crime of sex, it is a crime of power. Based on my personal experience of sexual assault, I do not agree that this is true in every case. Sometimes the crossing of boundaries which constitute sexual assault and rape really is about the perpetrator meeting a need for sexual gratification, and they simply do not value or care about the needs of the other person, and/or have not been taught to recognize or value engaged and mutual consent.
This is exactly the wound to which Tantric healing methods can be applied.
In our tradition of practice, the Tantric approach to sex (and all of life really), begins with your motivation, i.e your primary reason for taking action. Any action, be it sexual or non-sexual.
According to our Teacher, the primary motivation for sexual activity in Tantra is to promote healing. This healing springs naturally from deep, authentic, loving, and compassionate connection.
In her book ‘Passionate Enlightenment’, Buddhist scholar Miranda Shaw describes the relationship between tantric partners in the Buddhist tradition as “one of passion and intimacy” and “mutual aspiration, effort, and assistance” in which the two partners are viewed as equals with neither one being treated as an object to be mistreated or used for selfish purposes.
Tantric Buddhist teachings regarding sexual Tantra describe the focus of the act of sex being about the pleasure, love, and energy that can be shared and given, not taken– whether by force or demand.
In sexual Tantra, part of the approach to pleasure and arousal comes from the standpoint of understanding that anatomically female bodies are like a large pot on a small flame. It can take us 20-45 minutes to fully heat up, but once we are hot, we stay that way for hours. Anatomically male bodies, on the other hand, are like a small pot on a large flame. They tend to heat up fast, but then boil over, and all the juice (literally and figuratively) is gone.
Sexual Tantra can provide accessible methods for finding the balance between male and female sexual arousal cycles, and skills for enhancing MUTUAL pleasure.
In fact, the historical Tantric text Candamaharosana-tantra gives explicit instructions for how Tantric partners should offer each other pleasure:
“Place my feet upon your shoulders and
Look me up and down.
Make the fully awakened scepter
Enter the opening in the center of the lotus.
Move a hundred, thousand, hundred thousand times
In my three-petaled lotus
Of swollen flesh”
This passage describes mutual (and excited) pleasure as the goal of sexual Tantra. Not “what can I GET?”
In Tantric Buddhism, female energy is revered and considered in many ways energetically superior to male energy, as feminine energy governs the life force.
It is understood that feminine energy is inherently connected to Universal Wisdom Nature, and that female pleasure can be a gateway for male-bodied beings to access that Wisdom.
So you see- attitude, approach, and motivation are everything!
The current cultural attitudes towards male sexuality promote the goal of “getting in that pussy, so I can bust a nut.”
It is fueled by the male ejaculatory orgasm, which usually happens quickly, explosively, and selfishly. It doesn’t matter if she is ready or not, as long as he gets his. And most cishet men have no training in how to control their ejaculation to last beyond 2-10 minutes, leaving their female partners frustrated and unfulfilled.
I call it the “cum culture” which is perpetuated by mainstream media and male-dominated porn.
“Cum Culture” sets the standard for sexual play being entirely about male gratification. It does not typically model or demonstrate examples of how men can spend time connecting with and pleasuring the woman so that she blossoms into her orgasmic potential.
What I hear from many tantrically trained men, is that they feel most MANLY when they have pleasured their female partner so thoroughly that she is a melted puddle on the bed, or the floor, or the chair, …etc.
In porn, men are being taught to substitute pleasure for violence. Instead of leaving her in a puddle of sensual bliss, she is left battered, beaten and bruised by his dick. And women are being taught that this is what should “feel good” sexually.
Sex in mainstream porn is not portrayed as a communion of equals, and yet sadly, porn is where most men and women are getting their sex education.
But what if instead of passing down sexual violence to our children, (which is born out of sexual shame and ignorance), we instilled in them a reverence for the sacredness of human sexuality?
What if they understood that sexual bliss was a glimpse of God’s Grace, and little boys understood that their penis could be a tool for healing, as opposed to weapons of hymen destruction?
The consciousness that gives rise to rape culture would have no fertile soil in which to grow.
How do we raise our children like this? By doing it for ourselves. By healing our own relationship to sex and pleasure.
Imagine if men learned to make love and not war with their bodies, by integrating their hearts’ with their cocks’, and thought more about the pleasure they would like to GIVE, as opposed to “get” from the women they are interacting with?
Imagine if women were educated about their bodies, and became empowered in their pleasure and were able to touch their genitals without fear. They would be able to advocate for themselves in bed and communicate with their partners about their pleasure, giving guidance and support, as opposed to silent submission.
Imagine if sex became a team sport, (we’re all on the same team here!) and MUTUAL pleasure, fun, enjoyment, and healing THROUGH connection was the goal.
Imagine if we took the topic of sex OUT OF THE CLOSET, and put it up on the table, so we could all see it and discuss it openly, without giggling like 7th graders and calling it “dirty”, and feeling guilt and shame about our natural, human NEED for sexual pleasure.
Tantric sexuality is considered to be the “fast path” to enlightenment and sexual union a holy experience. Every orgasm is a glimpse of enlightenment, and pleasure is considered to be medicine-elixir for the mind body and soul.
What if this was our imprinting around sexuality? What if the word “sex” was synonymous with the word “sacred”?
There would be no grounds for “rape culture”, because selfish, self-serving, “cum shot” sex would be looked down upon, and instead of being the signpost of a man, it would be perceived as the behavior of a sexually immature boy, who has been improperly educated about what it truly means to be a MAN.